September 13, 2012


Punks grow up and their sound might change, but their ideals and following can remain in tact without any resistance. Carson Cox and Dave Vassalotti are all too familiar with the power of true identity, forming Merchandise in 2007 alongside bassist Patrick Brady, and setting their sights on paving a path to success under the guise of noise pop on an unsuspecting locale despite the fact they up until that point, they had been fixtures in various straight edge punk and hardcore bands since high school. I can't recall the last time anyone name-checked Tampa Bay's music scene for any glowing reason (Gainesville, FL at best?,) yet coming from a rather dull residential suburban scene myself, it's easy to comprehend how an artist with greater ambitions than becoming a cliché of small city rebellion might feel limited by their surroundings. In a recent interview with Pitchfork's Jenn Pelly, Cox -- who plays the role of lead vocalist in the band -- stated, "Punks become uncomfortable when things make them question their politics. They're afraid to listen to things that are totally different from themselves. But you should be able to listen to anything." From that sentiment, Merchandise have proven that staying true can both free you and obtain the respect of your peers, as their catalog of singles, EPs, 2010's debut Strange Songs (In the Dark) and this year's outstanding breakthrough Children of Desire have been eagerly welcomed into DIY online record shops normally reserved for underground hardcore releases. The rippled synths and gauzy reverb toppled by Cox's early-era Morrissey-like vox unabashedly flaunt influences as diverse as '80s pop to post-punk and shoegaze, but in the same way that the Mozfather and the Smiths escaped a drab English town by romanticizing punk, finding idol worship in offbeat figures, working on a budget of nothing and emoting without filter, Merchandise are an alluring young act who gets that art is both image conscious yet means absolutely nothing if you take your soul out of it. The band is currently touring across the States' various DIY venues with dates alongside fellow BUZZSounds California X, METZ and even the reclusive and legendary Jandek. They also plan to release a new EP on Night People in November, and eventually, sign to a more permanent label that won't get in the way of their freedom.

"In Nightmare Room"
Directed by: N / A

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